There are Bible societies in Europe and America, the contributors to which deem it meritorious to publish and propagate the canonical books of Christianity; and in China we meet with analogous sentiments which prompt people to spread abroad religious books proclaiming the moral principles of their faith. The Chinese think to gain merit by writing, copying, or publishing such books as the Kan Ying-P'ien, and our illustration represents a publishing office maintained either by some
pious man who is possessed of sufficient wealth, or an association inspired by the same motive. It is the picture of a Chinese Home Mission Publishing Company.
We see in the lower left-hand corner two engravers busily employed in writing characters upon engraving blocks. At the further end of the table stands a pile of tracts, Yü Hai Tze Hang, which treat of the "Voyage of Mercy over the Ocean of Desire," a Buddhist Pilgrim's Progress. A man is engaged in storing away another tract, the Hsing T'ien Yüh Ching, which discusses the subject "how with a heavenly nature we may adjust ourselves to circumstances."
At the right-hand table where the three men are printing with brushes, we see another tract, the Kung Kuo Ko, which means "the Table of Merits and Demerits"--a curious little book which is incorporated as an appendix to the Chinese copy of the Kan Ying P'ien in our possession. It contains a list of all good and evil deeds, and marks their value in figures in a system similar to that in use in our schools. Stopping a fight counts +3; inducing people to abstain from eating flesh for one year counts +20; gossiping with evil tongue, -3; to return favors, +20; to keep a promise seems to
be considered as a matter of course, for it counts but +1; to abstain from taking things that do not belong to us, counts also but +1; sincerity, or, as the book expresses it, "to speak as one thinks," counts +1 per day; betrayal of a neighbor's secrets counts -50. At the end of the book there are blanks for lists of both meritorious and demeritorious deeds, for the sums total on both sides, and for the statement of the balance.
The pile of tracts which is just being carried to the shelves is a volume of the same book, as may be recognized by the first word kung, "merits."
The stacks in the background contain the following books: on the left upper shelf are three rows of the Kan-Ying P'ien; on the left middle shelf is the Yin Chih Wên, or The Tract of the Quiet Way; on the left lower shelf we read the title Ti Chün Hsiao King, "The Imperial Lord's Book of Filial Piety," a work of Taoist ethics, probably written in the same strain as the Kan-Ying P'ien; on the right upper shelf is the "Canonical Book (King) of the Pearly Emperor"; on the right middle shelf we see a Buddhist book called "The Diamond Cutter," Chin Kang King, a
[1. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Co., 1906.]
well-known treatise published in English translation among the Sacred Books of the East; and on the lowest right-hand shelf is to be found the Ta Chih King, or "Book of Great Thoughts."